Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


My latest blog post on the Acts 29 Blog.

When we started Revolution, our prayer was and is still, that we would die in Tucson. We wanted to give our lives to one church, to one city, to one movement and out of that church, we prayed that 1 million people would follow Jesus because of it. This commitment has helped when times are the darkest, because sometimes, your calling is all you have. You will come back to it and question it and wonder if you heard God correctly. If you commit to stay, it makes difficult situations a little easier. They still hurt and are painful, but when we hit rough patches, Katie and I would look at each other and say, “We decided to outlast them, so let’s push through.”

Kevan Lee on The best time to write, get ideas, be creative and succeed in work.

Research into the human body—its hormone  allotment, its rhythms, and its tendencies—has found that there are certain times of day when the body is just better at performing certain activities. Eat breakfast no later than 8:00 a.m. Exercise between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.Read Twitter from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. (your fellow tweeters are more upbeat in the morning).

Dave Bruskas on 4 ways a pastor can love his wife well. These apply to all men.

I have to preserve my best energy for my wife, and it often requires me to tell some really great people “no” when they request my energy. This also means disappointing them. But I would much rather live with their disappointment than miss out on knowing my wife more deeply.

12 things Carey Nieuwhof would tell himself if he was starting out in leadership today. This is pure leadership gold.

At 25 I wish I would have enjoyed life more. I probably still struggle with this. I’m driven enough to spend my hours thinking about what could be rather than enjoying what is.

Casey Graham on 3 common time management traps.

Nothing has helped me produce more results in less time than refusing to mix my days up.  I label my days.  They are either a Free Day, Buffer Day, or Profit Day.  Free days are completely work free.  Buffer days are the days to get stuff organized & ready for my profit days.  Profit days are days where I do my highest money-making activities for the business.

8 ways to spot emotionally healthy church leaders and staff’s.

Emotionally unhealthy people keep company with people who bring them down and then blame everyone else when their life isn’t how they want it to be. Conversely, emotionally healthy people don’t act as though the world owes them anything. They don’t waste their time having pity parties or feeling sorry for themselves.

Mike Leake on The shame of pornography and God’s justification of sinners.

For me there was a vicious cycle of freedom, failure, shame, depression, freedom. Over and over and over for the better part of ten years–from my teenage years until a few years into my marriage. The shame over failure only caused me to spiral into deeper despair and more sin took root.

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Church Multiplication with Geoff Surratt | Session 3


Paul and I are spending the day learning about church multiplication and multi-site with Geoff Surratt. Really excited about today as we are looking towards church planting in the future of Revolution Church.

Here are some notes from the third session:

What should a multi-site church reproduce:

  • What do you value?
  • What are you uniquely good at?
  • What is reproducible?
  • What is non-essential?
    • The more you reproduce, the harder it is and the more it costs.

Funding questions:

  • What model are we going to use?
    • The model you are going to use will determine what you will need to spend.
  • How many will we launch?
  • What are our financial expectations?

Two views of operating budgets of multi-site churches

  • Shared Purse: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
  • Capitalism: Each church lives on its own income.

Defining DNA

  • What are the irreducible minimums?
  • What is up to individual leaders?
  • Are you a high accountability church or a control church?


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The Dreams that Drive Revolution Church


Revolution is going to turn 5 years old yesterday. Over the last week on the blog, I shared some of the things that drove us to start Revolution and drive us to this day. If you missed them, here they are:

  1. Help people become who they were created to be.
  2. Helping people take their next step with Jesus.
  3. Get the Men, Win the War.
  4. Be simple.
  5. Unleash leaders & plant churches.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


  1. Duane Smets on The pruned planter.
  2. 5 questions every sermon must answer.
  3. Rich Birch on 7 signs your church is struggling.
  4. 10 things that should be on your to-do list today.
  5. Cheryl Edmondson on How to handle it when people talk about your husband, the pastor.
  6. How to write the bottom line in your next sermon.
  7. Dan Black on Benefits to breaking your normal routine.
  8. Tony McCullom on Your first 500 sermons will suck.
  9. What keeps leaders up at nights.
  10. J.D. Greear on What’s the deal with the ‘T’ in LGBT?
  11. Luke Simmons on What I admire about Mormon missions.
  12. An unknown pastor is not the same thing as an ordinary pastor.
  13. Aimee Byrd on Women preaching and blogging. Great insights here.

Unleash Leaders & Plant Churches


Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

On Monday, we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. On Tuesday, we looked at how to help people take their next step with Jesus and why that is so important. On Wednesday, we looked at our target, what we call: Get the men, win the war. Yesterday we looked at how to be simple. To wrap up the 5 things that drive Revolution, we’ll look at our dream of unleashing leaders. Another way of thinking about this drive is to plant churches that plant more churches.

From day one of Revolution Church, we have dreamed of raising up an army of leaders that are unleashed to be on mission, develop other leaders where they work, live and play and out of those leaders, plant churches.

The reason is simple: more evangelism happens in church plants than established church. Also, in Tucson, because of our terrible highway system, people largely stay in their area of the city. To reach a city and see it changed, you have to plant churches.

The way we’ve stated this has been: We want everyone in Tucson to live within 10 minutes of a church we planted. 

What does that look like?

It looks like Revolution Churches all over Tucson. Some that have video preaching, some that have live preaching. But all of them carrying the Revolution DNA (helping people live the life God created them to live, taking their next step, being simple, calling men and women to be who God created them to be). This means that all Revolution Churches will do MC’s, preach the same sermon each week, use the same study materials, the same DNA. Our hope is that we become a large extended family, a movement.

Why do it like this?

Church planting is expensive and not predictable. Most church plants fail in the first year because they don’t get traction, run out of finances or don’t have leaders. By planting a Revolution Church, a name that is known in Tucson, there is some weight behind that. It also enables a church in a wealthier part of the city to help a church in a poorer part of the city have the same level of ministry and leadership. It helps people feel part of a larger movement. We have said from day one, our church planting and what each one looks like will depend on the leaders we have at the time at that plant. I think many leaders are unwise when they say, “We will only do it this way.” That’s poor stewardship.

Also, as I’ve talked with pastors who have planted churches, the wise stewardship that comes through sharing finances, missional community materials, devotional questions, kid and student curriculums is wise stewardship. If you have 10 churches, why create 10 different things, 10 different sermons? That’s a poor use of time and resources in my opinion.

As a church, we help to plant autonomous churches in Tucson and other parts of the country (in fact, as we plant we are supporting a church plant that is in the same area of the city that we are hoping to plant in because we believe Tucson needs more gospel-centered church), but our primary means of church planting efforts will go into planting Revolution Churches around Tucson.

One of the things I’m most excited about are the steps we are taking for this to happen. After years of praying and dreaming, we are seeing how God is moving and we are praying that we will plant Revolution Church | Midtown in January 2015.

Preach the Word 2013: Panel Discussion

At the end of each day at the Preach the Word conference they did a panel discussion with the speakers for the day. Here are some things that jumped out at me from the discussion with Justin Holcomb, Alex Early and Leonce Crump:

  • You can grow a church through preaching through books of the Bible. 
  • When you go to minister to people, take someone with you. Don’t hang out with non-Christians on your own. Use that as a chance to mentor and disciple new leaders.
  • An indicative in the Bible is not the gospel, it is often the fruit of the gospel. It is describing, “this is the reality.”
  • Everyone wants to be a good person. An effective communicator sets up the tension that you can’t be.
  • Sometimes guys plant churches because they want to have a crowd to preach to. That’s not a good reason to plant.
  • You narrow your approach to preaching if you don’t think about who is in the room.
  • You can’t go wrong preaching Jesus because he’s always confrontational but always welcoming.
  • To reach your neighbor, you must know your neighbor.
  • You are a lazy pastor if you don’t evaluate your preaching.

Preach the Word 2013: Preaching God’s Two Words || Justin Holcomb

bookI’m at the Preach the Word conference through Acts 29 today and as always, posting my notes to the sessions I attend.

One of the speakers is Justin Holcomb. His topic was an incredibly important theological topic when it comes to preaching: preaching God’s 2 words – law and gospel. Justin used Galatians 3:1 – 3, 10 – 14 as his text.

Justin is a pastor at Mars Hill Church, where he serves as Executive Director of The Resurgence and leads the Leadership Development department. He is also Adjunct Professor of Theology and Culture at Reformed Theological Seminary and previously taught at the University of Virginia. Justin holds two masters degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Emory University. He and his wife Lindsey are the authors of Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault, and he his new book is On the Grace of God.

Here are some things that jumped out in his talk:

  • It is important to understand how law and gospel relate as both are from God. 
  • If we mess up the relationship between the law and the gospel, we are corrupting the core of the Christian faith.
  • When we miss this, we miss the core of the gospel.
  • We know from Scripture that Christ died to set us free.
  • Christ fulfilled the law perfectly.
  • Christ was raised from the dead for our justification.
  • We have been set free from the bondage of sin, the fear of death. We are called what Jesus was, pure and perfect.
  • The gospel has no condemnation.
  • Thesis 1: the doctrinal contents of the Holy Scripture, both of the Old Testament and the New Testament are made up of two doctrines different fundamentally from each other – the Law and the Gospel.
  • The law condemns and the gospel comforts.
  • The law is everything that commands, the gospel is everything that promises favor in Christ.
  • The problem is not with God’s law, but with us.
  • The law directs and the gospel delivers.
  • The 10 commandments are the summary of the law.
  • The law can’t heal what it diagnosis.
  • The law of God is perfect, true and righteous. It is holy, right and good.
  • The law can do nothing to create what it commands (Romans 7).
  • The function of the law is not to generate obedience, grace is.
  • God’s law and God’s gospel are two different words with two different functions.
  • The law tells us the truth but fails to convey the power to fulfill what it commands.
  • The gospel is the good news is that Jesus’ burden is light and there is no more “no” as that went to Jesus on the cross.
  • The gospel reveals God’s goodness, his mercy and his benefits.
  • Jesus took the law very seriously. He came to fulfill it, not abolish it.
  • Jesus summarizes the law in Matthew 22 by telling us to love God with all of us and love our neighbor as yourself.
  • Jesus commands love of God all the time.
  • Jesus doesn’t just summarizes the law, he intensifies it. The sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) is a great example of this. “You have heard it said…”
  • Jesus goes past the outward evidence of obedience to get to our heart.
  • Jesus’ call to be perfect is to give up what we worship so we can worship Jesus.
  • Thesis #2: Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguishes from each other the Law and the Gospel.
  • Law and gospel go together and in that order.
  • When we use the law to look good, it isn’t to get what Jesus gives us.
  • We can’t have the law without the gospel, but we can’t have the gospel without the law.
  • Forgiveness means never bringing it up.
  • Don’t replace the ministry of the Holy Spirit with law or exhortations motivating the human spirit.
  • Your goal in preaching is not to motivate someone.
  • Exhortation is not yelling or shaming.
  • Thesis #3: Rightly distinguishing the Law and the Gospel is the most difficult and the highest art of Christians in general and of theologians in particular. It is taught only by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.
  • The only appropriate response to law and gospel is repentance.

Great opening session.

Preach Better Sermons || Darrin Patrick

bookI’m watching the online conference Preach Better Sermons today and wanted to share some of the learnings I picked up. One of the speakers is Darrin Patrick founded The Journey in 2002 in the urban core of St. Louis, Missouri. The Journey has six locations and has released seven church plants. Darrin is Vice President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network (which Revolution Church is part of) and has helped start multiple non-profits in St. Louis. Darrin is the author of two books: Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission and For the City.

Here are some things that jumped out from Darrin’s segment:

  • The Journey rotates through Old Testament, New Testament and hot-button current topics. This keeps the sermons fresh. 
  • By moving around like this, it helps the church have a holistic view of Scripture.
  • Teaching through books of the Bible you are forced to teach on everything.
  • Take chunks of time to prepare during the summer for the rest of the year.
  • We need to preach the gospel all the time, not just in one sermon.
  • The gospel is this thing that is growing.
  • The way we came to Christ is the way we stay in him.
  • People have felt needs, but the gospel is the real need of every human being.
  • Would your sermon work if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?

This Weekend @ Revolution || Trusting in God When You Don’t Understand Him


I’m really excited for this week at Revolution Church. Of course, I’m really excited every week!

This week, we are having a special guest speaker. Josh Watt will be joining us. Josh is the student pastor at Redemption Gateway in Phoenix. Redemption is another Acts 29 church that we partner with.

This week, we will be looking at Ecclesiastes 8 and look at how to know and follow God’s ways. Often, we have no idea what God is doing in our lives or world, or how to partner with him. This can be frustrating when it comes to trusting in God and following him. This week, we’ll look at how to trust God when life doesn’t add up or when you don’t understand what God is doing.

This is definitely a week you don’t want to miss at Revolution Church. So, bring someone with you (you never know when a simple invite will make an eternal difference).

So, get there early. Come ready to worship and give Josh a loud, revolutionary welcome this week!

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am.